Review: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

I know I should be only strictly reading The Behemoth right now (less than 300 pages to go!) but I have to pause and review this tiny, but very important, little read that I actually half-read, half-listened to on my Kindle, a week ago.

In 1942, Viktor Frankl was a psychologist living in Vienna, Austria, when he was arrested and sent in a transport to Theresienstadt ghetto with his wife.  Two years later, he was deported to the death camp, Auschwitz.  He spent the remaining year of the war being transferred from camp to camp, working as a doctor, counseling those in need.  After his liberation in 1945, Frankl returned to Vienna and wrote his (originally anonymous) memoirs about his experience in the camps, entitled Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp.  His enduring philosophy was that any suffering or hardship in life could be survived, in fact, glorified, by the sufferer’s ability to attribute some sense of meaning to his suffering.  The book was later published under Frankl’s name, with the new title Man’s Search For Meaning.

The underlying message of the book is that man should not ask what is the meaning of his life is, but rather, what the world and life itself are asking of him.  Through the discovery of his own meaning,  his place in the world, man can understand the meaning behind his suffering, and through that suffering, find purpose and make something amazing out of his life.

This book was brilliant.  I loved it, and my only sorrow is that Frankl is long gone (he died in 1997) and I will never get to go to one of his lectures.  Part I of the book is infinitely more readable, though much sadder, as it is Frankl’s recollections of life in the camps, the struggles, those who died, etc.  Part II is more related to the nuts and bolts of his logotherapy method of psychology, but it is interspaced with stories and examples of how his methodology worked, so it is still quite interesting.  I am not a “self-help book person”, so I was initially hesitant, but I would definitely recommend this.

Length: 184 pages, short but sweet.

Recommend: Yes

To Whom: Anyone who is going through a rough time and struggling to find a purpose in it all; also, those who are interested in Holocaust memoirs.

Rating: ***** of 5 stars.


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